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Assistant Football Coach
(615) 547-1344
Football Athletic Training Building
Athletic Department
B.S., Western Kentucky University

Taurean Smith returns to the Cumberland staff as the defensive coordinator.

Smith spent the last five years at NCAA Division II Kentucky Wesleyan, serving as the associate head coach, defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator. In his first season, he helped the Panthers to a 7-4 mark, the best record in program history, just one year after a winless season. He improved the defense in nearly every statistical category en route to the program’s first winning season in 15 years.

Smith was named Interim Head Coach at Kentucky Wesleyan this past August, posting a 3-7 mark.

During his time in Owensboro, 11 KWC players earned All-Conference accolades, including First Team recognition for defensive back Alijah McGhee, who led the Great Midwest Athletic Conference with seven pass break-ups and six interceptions, and Second Team honors for defensive end Dalan Cofer. Smith also coached G-MAC Special Teams Player of the Year Keelan Cole, who now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

He spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons at Cumberland, working primarily with the linebackers as well as helping with special teams. His linebacker trio ranked first, third and fifth in tackles for the Bulldogs in 2012, accumulating 16.0 tackles for loss with one sack, one interception and three interceptions. Connor McChurch earned Second Team All-Mid-South Conference honors for the year.

In 2013 the tandem ranked first, third and fourth in tackles with four interceptions, 11 tackles for loss, six pass breakups and 10 quarterback hurries. The group also forced five fumbles while Nathan Jernigan garnered Second Team All-MSC accolades and was also named MSC Freshman of the Year.

Smith coached one season as a graduate assistant at Bethel University, working with linebackers. Stayce Whipple garnered First Team All-Mid-South Conference accolades that year. He was in charge of breaking down opponent film and drawing scouting cards for the Wildcats, who posted an 8-3 overall record, falling in the first round of the NAIA Playoffs.

His coaching career started as a student assistant at his alma mater, Western Kentucky, assisting with linebackers and special teams. He also broke down film and assisted with daily recruiting on campus activities.

Smith played two seasons for the Hilltoppers at inside linebacker for coach David Elson. He played in 24 career games at WKU, compiling 88 tackles as a senior with 5.5 tackles for loss as well as one interception and two forced fumbles. He recorded double-digit tackles in three straight contests, including 13 at Navy, and returned an interception 16 yards against South Florida. He ended his career with 11 tackles against Arkansas State.

Smith posted 49 stops as a junior with one fumble recovery and one pass breakup, including four tackles and a pass breakup versus Virginia Tech. He recorded a team-best 10 stops with a sack against Ball State and notched eight tackles versus Florida International.

He played two seasons at Minnesota State Community and Technical College, earning Male Student-Athlete of the Year honors as a sophomore. He earned First Team All-Region and All-Minnesota Community College Conference honors as a sophomore, registering 118 total tackles, eighth best in the nation, along with seven interceptions and eight tackles for loss.

He recorded 25 tackles against Ridgewater Community College and was credited with 18 stops and two interceptions versus Vermillion Community College. Smith paced the Spartans with 102 tackles along with three forced fumbles as a freshman, garnering Second Team All-MCCC accolades.

He was a three-year letterwinner at Perry High School in Perry, Ga., twice earning the Coaches’ Award. He posted 88 tackles as a senior, helping the Panthers play their first-ever home playoff game, and registered 82 stops with three sacks and two fumble recoveries as a junior. Smith made 64 tackles as a sophomore and also earned three letters in basketball.

Smith received his bachelor’s in Physical Education from Western Kentucky in 2011.



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Head Coach, Men and Women Cross Country
(615) 547-9403
Cross Country
Athletic Department
B.S., United States Military Academy

Jim Seckel enters his fifth season in 2019-20 as the cross country coach, and also coaches the distance events during the track and field season.  Seckel was named Cumberland University cross country coach on December 18, 2014, taking over the program after serving as the cross country and distance track coach at Franklin Road Academy in Nashville, Tenn., for two years.

The Camarillo, Calif., native has coached runners at multiple levels since 1995, including high school and youth clubs as well as serving as a private coach.

Since taking over the program in 2014, Seckel has produced 12 NAIA National Qualifiers, 32 All-Conference runners, 9 Conference Runners of the Week, and a Conference Freshman of the Year.  His student-athletes have likewise excelled in the classroom and in the community, with 7 NAIA Scholar-Athlete designations, 29 Academic All-Conference designations, two Mid-South Conference Champions of Character, two USTF-CCCA Scholar-Athletes, and one Cumberland University Lindsey Donnell Scholar-Athlete.  Seckel was also voted at Mid-South Conference Women’s Coach of the Year in 2018.

Notable achievements during Seckel’s tenure include distance runners winning six conference championships in track:  Jordan Hill (800m Outdoor, 2017); Joel Barlow (3000m Indoor, 2018); Taylor Blankenship (1000m Indoor, 2018); Men’s DMR (Indoor, 2018); Women’s DMR (Outdoor, 2019) and Cornelius Kipchumba (10000m Outdoor, 2019).  Blankenship also became the cross country program’s first two-time national qualifier, with appearances in both the 2017 and 2018 national meet.

Seckel has been a competitive runner since 1980 and has competed at all levels, progressing through youth track programs, middle school, high school and collegiate levels. Following college graduation, he continued to compete in national and regional-level road races and continues to compete as a Masters athlete.  A veteran road racer and marathoner, he has completed 35 marathons, including a string of eleven consecutive Boston Marathons.

He is a USA Track & Field Level 2 Certified Coach (Endurance Specialty) and also certified with the Road Runners Club of America and the National Federation of High Schools as an Accredited Interscholastic Coach.

Seckel graduated from the US Military Academy with a bachelor’s in Civil Engineering in 1990 and served five years as a captain in the US Army. He has enjoyed a 30-year career in the building construction and engineering industry in both the Army and in the corporate world.  He also graduated with a Master’s in Coaching and Athletic Administration (summa cum laude) from Concordia University – Irvine in 2016.

Seckel is married to the former Judy Bowman and the couple lives in Lebanon, Tenn. The couple’s daughter, Kristen, is a Recruiting Specialist at Aramark in Nashville.



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Head Coach, Men and Women Track and Field
(615) 547-1293
Phoenix Plaza
Athletic Department
B.S., Middle Tennessee State University

Seven-time NCAA All-American Mardy Scales was named head coach for track and field at Cumberland by Director of Athletics Ron Pavan. Cumberland is set to begin competition during the 2016-17 academic year.

The Franklin, Tenn., native and Centennial High School product was a seven-time All-American for legendary track coach Dean Hayes at Middle Tennessee State University from 2001-04, winning the NCAA 100-meter outdoor collegiate title as a junior.

Scales earned Sun Belt Conference Male Athlete of the Year honors as a senior for the Blue Raiders and was a seven-time Sun Belt Conference champion. He set Sun Belt Championships records in winning the 100 and 200-meters outdoors in 2004 and his 10.12 in the 100 was the fastest by any collegian that year. He fell one-tenth of a second short of defending his outdoor national championship in the 100 in a photo finish with Arkansas’ Tyson Gay and TCU’s Michael Frater.

He ran track professionally from 2004-09 with Nike, representing the United States in various athletic events around the globe, maintaining a strict schedule and practice discipline to compete at the highest level. Scales was a Pan American Games silver medalist in the 100 in 2003 and a member of the USA Track & Field World Championship Team in 2005 after winning the USA Indoor 60-meter championship that year.

He served as track and field coach at Centennial High School for one season in 2009 and started the Scales Pro AAU Track Club as well as Scales Pro Fitness in Franklin in 2013. He has a Level 1 USA Track & Field Coaching Certification.

Scales has helped begin the program at Cumberland and produced the first national champion in program history last year; Charles Shimukowa won the 800m Indoor National Championship.

Scales earned his bachelor’s in Physical Education from Middle Tennessee in 2013 and was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame this fall.



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Vice President for Athletics and Vice President for Facilities and Services
(615) 547-1348
Dallas Floyd Phoenix Arena
Athletic Department, Office of Campus/Food/Housing/Security
A.A., Northeastern Christian Junior College
B.A., Lubbock Christian University
M.A., West Virginia University

Ron Pavan enters his 12th year as Director of Athletics at Cumberland University in 2019-20 after serving in the same capacity for 14 years at Ohio Valley University in Parkersburg, W.Va. Pavan begins his 34th year in college athletics with experience in coaching basketball, soccer and softball, as well as serving as intramural director. He also begins his fifth year as the Vice President for Enrollment Services with the University.

During his tenure, Pavan has earned numerous awards and honors. In 2008, Ohio Valley University created the Ron Pavan Athletic Award that is given to a meritorious student-athlete every year in Pavan’s honor. He was inducted into the Ohio Valley University Hall of Fame and and named the Wilson County Sports Person of the Year in 2016. Pavan has also won the 2018 Mid-South Conference Athletic Director of the Year Award.

In 11 years at Cumberland, Pavan has successfully added eight sports to the program. two Assistant Athletic Director positions, a Strength and Conditioning Coach, an Assistant Wrestling Coach and a Sports Information Director. He has overseen the building of a new weight room, a resurfacing of the tennis courts and added a new athletic training room. During the Summer of 2011, Cumberland added new bleachers and a press box at Lindsey Donnell Stadium-Kirk Field.

Pavan took on his biggest project to date during the Spring and Summer of 2012, coordinating the takeover and renovation of Nokes-Lasater Field, the old Lebanon High School football facility. The locker room facilities and coaches offices were both completely renovated with new paint, carpet, central heat and air, new lockers and meeting room space added. An old track locker room was turned into an athletic training department, new fencing was added to the south and east sides of the stadium, and the playing areas surrounding the field were resurfaced. The facility includes two 70-yard practice fields, restrooms on both the home and visitors sides of the stadium, a concession stand and dressing areas for visiting players and coaches.

During the spring of 2018 Pavan oversaw Cumberland’s first fundraiser for athletics, spearheading an effort to raise $500|000 for softball, baseball and the gymnasium, adding stadium seating and a new press box at softball, chairback seating in the gym and new chairback seats and scoreboard at baseball.

The Pittsburgh, Pa., native has implemented a student-athlete attendance policy and community service program and instituted the use of the NAIA’s Champions of Character (Integrity, Respect, Responsibility, Servant Leadership and Sportsmanship) brand throughout the department. Cumberland was named a Five-Star Institution on the Champions of Character Scorecard in six of the last seven academic years.

Pavan has raised the awareness of Cumberland University through the Community Service Program and made one of his main objectives the effort to reconnect with local businesses and corporate sponsorships.

He signed an exclusive apparel and equipment contract with adidas in his first three months on the job at Cumberland, a move which benefits the entire athletic department as well as the University community, and has reconnected with the Coca-Cola Company on new programs. Having partnerships with local sporting goods company SportsWorld and building the new weight room with the mayor of Lebanon, Phillip Craighead, have also improved the image of Cumberland Athletics.

The additions of full-time staff members have all added greatly to the improvement of the department, raising the image and quality of publicity locally and nationally and improving student-athlete attendance and graduation rates. Pavan completed the Vanderbilt University Peabody College of Education and Human Development Summer Fellow program and the Peabody Professional Institute for Higher Education Management course during Summer 2010.

Cumberland has enjoyed unprecedented success both on-and-off the field during Pavan’s tenure, winning 24 conference regular season and tournament championships, two team national titles and four individual national championships during his 11 years. CU has also earned 952 Conference Scholar-Athlete honors, 261 NAIA Scholar-Athlete accolades and 86 All-American awards.

Before arriving at Cumberland, Pavan spent the previous 14 years at Ohio Valley University. While at OVU, he successfully added seven varsity programs to the athletic department, oversaw creation of a booster club and moved OVU Athletics from NAIA to NCAA Division II. He also oversaw development of an indoor baseball/softball complex, new fitness center, and improvements to the gym, soccer and softball fields.

Pavan raised OVU’s profile in the local community not only by elevating the quality of sports within the program but also by bringing in major sports personalities to conduct fundraisers and corporate sponsorships, including Mike Krzyzewski and Jay Bilas among others.

He spent nine years at Northeastern Christian Junior College in Villanova, Pa., serving in a variety of capacities, including head coach for men’s soccer, women’s basketball and softball as well as working in the admissions office and as the intramural director. He was also an instructor in the Art and Physical Education Department at NCJC.

Pavan earned his bachelor’s in Art and Physical Education from Lubbock Christian University in Lubbock, Texas, and received a master’s in Athletic Administration from West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va.

He is married to the former Tammi McGhee of Lynchburg, Va., and the couple has three children – Madison, Jenna and Mason.


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Assistant Coach, Track and Field
(615) 453-6393
Phoenix Plaza
Athletic Department
B.S., Middle Tennessee State University

A native of Accra, Ghana, Atsu Nyamadi competed at Middle Tennessee State University. While at MTSU, Nyamadi garnered All-Academic C-USA status in the 2015-2016 season.  He took home first place in the heptathlon and finished in third and seventh place in the long jump and triple jump at the Conference USA Indoor Championship.  During the Outdoor Championship he placed first in the decathlon, eighth in the triple jump and sixth in the javelin throw.

Atsu Nyamadi previously worked at Florida A&M University as the Multis, Jumps and Throwing coach.

Nyamadi also holds the Ghana National Record for the decathlon and earned both Silver and Bronze medals at the African Games from 2014-2016.

He graduated from Middle Tennessee State Universitywith a degree in Liberal Science and Tourism Studies.



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Mens Tennis Coach
CU Tennis Court
Athletic Department
B.S., Bethel College
M.A., Cumberland University

Lins is entering his second year as the Head Men’s Tennis coach at Cumberland. In his first season he led the men’s program to a 13-7 overall record and a trip to the National Tournament.

Thiago played junior tennis in Brazil and was ranked among the 100 best junior tennis players in his home country. He earned a full tennis scholarship to play for 2 years at Seward County Community College in Liberal, KS and then transferred to Bethel University in Tennessee. 

Thiago was ranked in the top 20 in Singles and Doubles during his college career and as a team they were ranked in the top 5 in the NAIA rankings and appeared in 3 straight national tournaments. After graduating college, Thiago worked at several tennis facilities, including Assistant Tennis Pro at Idle Hour Club in GA, Director of Tennis at The Westside Club in SC, Junior and Adult Tennis Coordinator at Midtown Athletic Club in GA, Head Tennis Pro for Genesis Health Clubs in Salina, KS, as well as the Student Assistant Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach for Bethel University and assistant men’s and women’s coach at Central Christian College in Kansas.

He worked at several clinics as a special guest in Colombia, Brazil, Italy and around the US, working alongside legends of the game such as Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Roy Emerson, Mark Phillippoussis, Mark Woodforde, and several others players that were grand slam champions.

He holds USPTA, USPTR, and ITF certifications and has been teaching and coaching tennis for over 15 years.

Lins recieved his undergraduate degree in Physical Education from Bethel in 2008. He recently finished his masters degree in Sports Management in December 2018 at Cumberland University.



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Athletic Trainer
Main Athletic Training Building
Athletic Department
B.A., The University of Alabama
M.S.A., Eastern Michigan University


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Administrative Assistant to the Vice President for Athletics and the Vice President for Facilities and Services
(615) 547-1349
Dallas Floyd Phoenix Arena
Athletic Department, Office of Campus/Food/Housing/Security
B.S., San Diego State University


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Assistant Baseball Coach
CU Baseball Field
Athletic Department
M. S., Campbellsville University
B. S., Oregon State University

Brett Neffendorf, a Beaverton, Ore. native, was hired in the summer of 2016 as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the Campbellsville baseball team. 

In his five seasons, Neffendorf developed the Campbellsville pitching staff into one of the best in the country year-in and year-out. Neffendorf also helped Campbellsville capture the 2017 MSC Regular Season Championship, back-to-back MSC Tournament titles in 2018 and 2019, and the programs first NCCAA World Series title in 2018.

While at Campbellsville, Neffendorf has recruited and coached 11 MSC First-Team All-Conference performers, eight Second-Team and one NAIA First-Team All-American. In addition, the Tigers struck out 506 batters and recorded 17 saves in 2018 – all single-season team records. In 2018, the staff also led the conference in ERA (3.88) and opponent batting average (.241) as well as setting a school record for wins with 44. In 2019, CU’s staff improved their numbers on the mound to post a 3.49 ERA and a .237 batting average against led by four qualifying pitchers who held opposing hitters under the .200 mark. 

Along with coaching and recruiting at Campbellsville, Neffendorf spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons as an associate scout for the Atlanta Braves.

Prior to Campbellsville, Neffendorf directed the Winter Prospect Camp at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore., where he worked closely with associate head coach Pat Bailey.

His previous coaching position came in Vancouver, Wash. as the head coach at Clark College. While at Clark, Neffendorf recruited and coached the first Clark player drafted in the Major League Draft since 1982 in pitcher Nick Duron (31st Round – Boston Red Sox).

Before accepting the head coaching position, Neffendorf was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Penguins in 2013-14. During his time as an assistant, Clark led the NWAC in fewest walks allowed and complete games pitched. Neffendorf also recruited and coached pitcher Travis Eckert who went on to pitch two seasons at Oregon State University. Eckert was drafted after his junior year in the 20th Round by the San Francisco Giants and again his senior year in the 7th Round by the Kansas City Royals.

Neffendorf started his coaching career at NCAA DIII George Fox University in 2013 in Newberg, Ore. where he assisted head coach Marty Hunter with infielders, scouting reports and recruiting.

Neffendorf has also coached in two highly-touted summer baseball leagues – Valley Collegiate League and Prospect Collegiate League. In 2013 he led the Slippery Rock Sliders to a franchise record 30 wins, 133 stolen bases and coached Matt Calhoun – the Prospect League Player of the Year.

In the summer of 2014, Neffendorf was an assistant for the Front Royal Cardinals of the Valley Collegiate League, which saw seven all-star game selections.

Prior to starting his coaching career, Neffendorf signed with Clackamas Community College, in Oregon City, Ore. During his time at Clackamas, Neffendorf suffered an elbow injury and sat out for one season before pursuing his coaching career.

Neffendorf graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology while graduating from Campbellsville University with a Masters in Management and Leadership. 

In the fall of 2019, Neffendorf married former Campbellsville University All-American volleyball player, Jana Kortas.